The Repairing Standard 1st Sep 2015

The Repairing Standard, contained in the Housing (Scotland) Act 2006, covers the legal and contractual obligations of private landlords to ensure that a property meets a minimum physical standard. There are serious penalties for non-compliance which can include cessation of rent and even criminal charges being brought.

Landlords (or letting agent on behalf of the landlord) must carry out a check of their property before renting it, and must also ensure the property meets this minimum standard during each and every tenancy details of which are set out below. Tenants must be notified of any works needing done and work must be completed within a reasonable time scale. Any damage as a result of works must be made good.

Privately rented properties must meet the Repairing Standard as follows:

• The property must be wind and water tight and in all other respects reasonably fit for people to live in.
• The structure and exterior (including drains, gutters and external pipes) must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
• Installations for supplying water, gas and electricity and for sanitation, space heating and heating water must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
• Any fixtures, fittings and appliances that the landlord provides under the tenancy must be in a reasonable state of repair and in proper working order.
• Any furnishings that the landlord provides under the tenancy must be capable of being used safely for the purpose for which they are designed.
• The property must have a satisfactory way of detecting fires and for giving warning in the event of a fire or suspected fire.
• The property must have satisfactory provision for giving warning if carbon monoxide is present in a concentration that is hazardous to health.

Landlords should also have an awareness of the requirements for electrical installations and appliances and the provision of carbon monoxide alarms coming into force on 1st December 2015 (see accompanying newsletter article).

If problems that have been identified are not rectified, the tenant has the right to take the issue to the Private Rented Housing Panel. The Panel will decide whether the landlord has breached the Repairing Standard and therefore whether there needs to be a referral to the Private Rented Housing Committee. The Committee can issue a Repairing Standard Enforcement Order stating which works have to be done and the timeframe for completion. Failure to comply is a criminal offence and can result in a reduction by up to 90% of the rent that can be charged, or criminal charges being brought.

Recently at Ayr Sheriff Court a landlord was stripped of his right to rent out private properties as he was found guilty of letting out a number of unsafe properties, which needed extensive repairs, and failed to comply with basic safety regulations regarding gas and fire requirements. The landlord had been given the opportunity to rectify the problems but he chose to ignore them.

All reputable letting agents, such as The Key Place, will keep landlords informed of works needing carried out to the property before and during every tenancy. These are identified at pre-tenancy inspections and through regular inspections during the tenancy, or if the tenant brings a problem to the attention of the letting agent or owner. The letting agent will advise the owner of what needs done, and it is in the owner’s best interests to agree to the works, in order to protect their investment.